Elderly Woman Who Botched Fresco Restoration Is Quickly Becoming an Internet Hero

Illustration for article titled Elderly Woman Who Botched Fresco Restoration Is Quickly Becoming an Internet Hero

Cecila Giminez, the Spanish woman who took it upon her humble self to "restore" a 100-year-old fresco in the church of her home village of Borja, has attracted the ridicule of many internet art critics, who have called her, um, reimagining of fresco Jesus both hedgehog- and monkey-like (a howler monkey, if we're offering our own interpretations). A funny thing has happened, though, amid all the derision, mockery and vitriol that has been poured over poor Giminez — the church in Borja has become an overnight tourist attraction, some people think what she did is really, like post-modern or whatever.


The 19th-century fresco that Giminez restored formerly depicted Jesus, but now probably depicts a Planet of the Apes Jesus that Mark Wahlberg would see if he came back to what he thought was regular earth but was actually monkey earth (the original Planet of the Apes is sooooo much better). Nevertheless, tens of thousands of people, either because they enjoy a good joke or because they don't understand great art (or because they do), have signed an online petition praising Giminez's restoration as a "daring work," and calling it "a clever reflection of the political and social situation of our time."

Easy, internet. The family of the fresco's painter, Elias Garcis Martinez, doesn't think too much of the restoration, probably because they're part of the fresco establishment and are, therefore, naturally suspicious of Giminez's avant garde sensibilities. Giminez is in her 80s, so it's easy to sympathize with her good intentions, but she pretty much ruined the labor of a guy who had studied art, who had been commissioned to paint the fresco, and who had entrusted his work to the Borja community, probably in the hopes that a priest or nun or monk — someone — would one day prevent some well-meaning townsperson from finger painting all over his legacy.

Botched restoration turns Spanish church into tourist attraction [NBC]


Jenna Sauers

I love this story.

The new painting is kind of beautiful in a demented way — it looks like an early Picasso or something. And it's not like Gimenez ruined some lost masterpiece: it was a small, late 19th Century fresco by a minor Spanish artist. She didn't take a knife to an El Greco or plaster over the Goyas at San Antonio de la Florida. Who had even heard of Martinez before this happened? The whole thing is just so funny.

Mostly, though, I love Gimenez' attitude. Her indignation, especially: "(The) priest knew it! He did! How could you do something like that without permission? He knew it!" I picture her shooing away reporters and going about her day like, what's the big deal?